Videoconference is great for a call with your mom. But it’s not great for judging candidates, or for convincing them to join your company.
I understand why Skype and its peers are increasingly popular for interviewing. Everyone wants to save time, and hiring people is among the most time-consuming of business activities. Why not get more efficient?
That argument would make perfect sense if videoconferencing were as good as a face-to-face meeting, but it’s not. Consider the following:
Poor lighting, cameras, and audio conspire to make everyone look bad.
Most people don’t act like themselves in front of a camera. They’re unnatural and stilted, making it impossible to get a true impression of their personality and personal style.
Just as it’s difficult to judge candidates, it’s difficult for them to judge you. Since one of the major objectives of a first conversation is to sell the candidate, this puts the hiring manager at a strong disadvantage.
A lot of communication — perhaps most — is nonverbal, and it’s very subtle. You don’t get it on video. Yet because videoconferencing provides the illusion of meeting in person, it’s easy to draw conclusions that are dead wrong.
Here’s an example. Recently a client met a candidate over a video call, and came away believing the candidate was mediocre and low energy. Nevertheless, he decided to meet the candidate in person. When he did, he had a completely different opinion. He told me, “I thought he was low-energy, but he’s really energetic and a no-BS guy. I really like him!”
If you like videoconferencing, go ahead and use it. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a substitute for in-person meetings. It can lead you to conclusions that are completely wrong. You can’t make good judgments about someone’s personality from a disembodied head on a video screen.
Put aside the idea that you can cut corners with videoconferencing, and make time for face-to-face meetings. Inevitably, this will involve more time and expense, but it’s well worth it. Not doing so puts you at high risk of hiring the wrong person.